A Buffet of Bikes: A day at the Triumph Factory Demo Tour

Triumph knows a thing or two about comebacks. The British motorcycle manufacturer is one steeped in history, but not tied to tradition. They are well known for their historic bikes such as the Bonneville. However, after falling on hard times, they were reborn in the early ‘90s as a full-fledged modern manufacturer. Now, they offer a comprehensive line of bikes that both harken back to their past and compete with the best of the present.

Comebacks are more important than ever since the great recession. There’s an even greater effort now to draw new customers and younger riders onto a company’s bikes since the poor economy wiped out many repeat motorcycle customers. The reason for this is because many of those customers heavily financed their bike loans through their houses. I don’t think I need to tell you how that story ends after 2008. To cope, there are a few ways motorcycle companies are attempting to draw attention to their products in a continually shrinking marketplace. Some are offering new bikes at a cheaper price point. Others are making their new and existing products more visible through more aggressive marketing campaigns. However, the few and the brave are actually putting their bikes in the hands of these riders through riding events. One such company is Triumph with their Factory Demo Tour events.

Here’s how it works. First, go to the event’s website. Then, find a dealership using the tool on the site. The website will show you which dealers are holding the event and when. You can also choose which bikes you would like to ride. The best part is that it is all completely free. Don’t feel like registering beforehand? You can show up to the event as well with no prior reservation. However, the event fills up fast, so you may want to register beforehand and get there early to get the bikes you want. This specific event ran from 8a.m.-4p.m., and you can stay or go at any time. However, get there early if you are motivated to ride a specific bike.

There are some requirements to attend, but no more than what is common sense. First, you must have a valid motorcycle license. Second, you must wear the proper gear. Leave the flip-flops and shorts at home, squids. Proper gear means a DOT certified helmet, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, closed-toed shoes and motorcycle gloves. The shirt and long pants do not have to be motorcycle specific gear, but it is highly recommended. Plus, if you call ahead to the dealer you’re going to, you may be able to rent an item or two. Finally, there is no reckless riding. You ride in a group around 10-15 strong while being escorted by staff. If you get separated from the group (cough, like me, cough), there are plenty of escorts to take you through the full route and bring you back to the starting point. But is the event any fun? That’s what I set to find out when I went to Motoworks in Chicago.

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